Curious Food of the Month: Lychees

These curious fruits are lychees. Native to southern China, Taiwan, Bangladesh, and Southeast Asia, these tropical fruits grow on evergreen trees and have rough reddish pink skins. Fresh lychees are fragrant and sweet, and they have been cultivated for over 4,000 years. The first records of lychees appear from China in 2000 BC; around 1600 AD, the first lychees were traded to Europe and the Americas. China produces the most lychees, followed by India, and they are also grown in Hawaii and Australia.

Fun Fact: In Chinese, “lychee” means “gift for a joyful life!”

How can we use lychees?

Known as a “super fruit,” lychees have inedible rinds and sweet, white insides that are enjoyed throughout the world. Lychees are most popularly eaten fresh and by hand. They are also commonly added to fruit salads, grilled on top of meats, incorporated in desserts and blended into drinks.

Fun Fact: Legends tell of the lychee’s “love” properties. The Chinese Emperor of the Tang Dynasty is believed to have ordered his guards to travel over 600 miles to pick lychees in order to attract his favorite mistress. Today, the lychee is a symbol of romance and love in China.

How are lychees good for me? 

Lychees are cholesterol-free and low in calories, saturated fat and sodium. They supply us with dietary fiber and are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C, which is important for the immune system. Additionally, a Journal of Nutritionstudy found that lychees contain the second highest amounts of polyphenols of all the fruits tested. This fruit also supplies B-complex vitamins such as B6, niacin and folate, which are essential for metabolism and a healthy nervous system. Lychees are packed with potassium, which helps promote cell and heart health, and contain copper, magnesium and phosphorous.

Fun Fact: Lychees contain 40% more vitamin C than orange juice! A 100 gram serving provides roughly 70 mg of Vitamin C, which is 117% of the suggested daily value.

How to buy lychees:

Intrigued by this sweet fruit? Lychees are harvested from May through September, and canned lychees are available year-round. Look for fruits with bright red or pink skins, as these will be the most flavorful. Lychees will not ripen any further once they have been picked, so refrigerate them in a plastic bag and they will keep for about a week. To prepare, use a knife to cut a circle through the skin around the circumference of the fruit and remove the rind. Break open the fleshy fruit to remove the seed, and enjoy!

Is there a particular fruit or vegetable that you would like to see featured as our “Curious” food of the week? What about your little ones – do they have any foods they’ve been learning about in school that they would like to see on our blog? Feel free to comment below, or send us an email to tell us about an unusual fruit or vegetable you have encountered in your travels, in restaurants or even in your local supermarket! See a food you don’t recognize? Take a picture and send it to us, and we’ll put our detectives to work.


Happy hunting!


The Red Rabbit Team

The Side: An Unsung Hero of Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is not only a classic time of year to spend time with our families, but it is also an ideal opportunity to learn about the food we eat. While turkey tends to be the centerpiece of the feast, side dishes are the perfect way to bring a palate of colors and flavors to the table to complement whichever protein you feature. Luckily, the fall harvest is a bountiful one, so you have some terrific, tasty options for vegetables to bring life to the dinner table!

The Red Rabbit Team has put together some recipes to make your side dishes this year healthy, fresh and full of flavor. Below youll find simple, healthful recipes spotlighting vegetables. Remember, you can always substitute dairy items for their non-dairy counter parts and exchange nuts or other ingredients as you see fit--youre the chef!

Garlicky Mashed Potato and Cauliflower Gratin- Serves 8

While potatoes are rich with fiber and vitamin C, they are also caloric and high in refined carbohydrates.  One way to lighten up your potato recipes and add fiber is to mix in cauliflower!  Cauliflower is highly nutritious and jam-packed with vitamins C, folate and carotenoids. It pairs well with potatoes because it is low in calories and carbohydrates while imitating the color and texture of potatoes when boiled.  You and your kids will love this reinvented mashed potato recipe!!

What youll need:

*  2 pounds russet (baking) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

*  1 (2- to 2 1/2-pound) head cauliflower, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces, including stems and core

*  3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

*  Salt (to taste)

*  1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

*  1 1/4 cups whole milk, divided

*  1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided

*  4 ounces coarsely grated Italian Fontina or Gruyère (about 1 cup packed)

*  3/4 to 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided


- Put potatoes and 2 teaspoons salt in a large heavy saucepan and generously cover with cold water (about 2 1/2 quarts). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat; simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

- While potatoes are boiling, heat 3/4 cup milk and 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan until butter is melted and milk is hot but not boiling. Keep warm off heat, covered.

- Drain potatoes in a sieve or colander; return to hot saucepan. Add milk mixture, Fontina, and pepper. Mash with a potato masher or fork to desired consistency. Season with salt and keep warm, covered.

- Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil, then add cauliflower and garlic; simmer until cauliflower is very tender, for 13 to 15 minutes. Drain cauliflower in a colander and pulse with remaining 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, and 3 tablespoons butter in a food processor until its a chunky purée.

- Stir together mashed potatoes and cauliflower mixture in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

- Transfer to a buttered 3-quart flameproof shallow baking dish (not glass).

- Heat oven to 425°F. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter and gently brush over potato-cauliflower mixture, then sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 to 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (to taste). Bake on the middle rack until it bubbles around edges, about 20 minutes.

- Turn on broiler and broil 6 to 8 inches from heat until topping is browned in spots (1 to 2 minutes).

Thanksgiving Activities for the Kids:

This recipe offers many opportunities for your child to play chef! Just make certain an adult is present while your young culinary master is in the kitchen.

*  Let your child grate the different cheeses, ensuring they keep their fingers curled inward and discontinue grating once there is less than an inch of cheese left. Have your child hold the cheese from the top, as far away from the grater as possible.

*  Peel the garlic cloves and smash them.

*  Add the milk mixture, Fontina, and pepper, and mash away!

*  Add ingredients to the food processor and pulse.

*  Stir together the potato-cauliflower mixture and add salt and pepper.


 

Homemade Cranberry Sauce- Serves 6-8

 

Instead of cranberry sauce from a can, why not make it from scratch?  Not only does making it at home allow you to control the taste of your cranberry sauce, but it also allows you to decide what kind of sweetener you use and avoid additives that food manufacturers often integrate. 

The following recipe uses freshly squeezed orange juice and honey to sweeten the classic side dish, providing a natural sweetness.  Also, it has a great jelly texture and vibrant cranberry flavor! This sauce can be made in advance and stored in the fridge.

What youll need:

*  1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

*  1 1/2 cups 100 percent cranberry juice (not cocktail)

*  6 cups honey

*  6 pounds fresh cranberries, approximately 4 cups

- Wash the cranberries. Discard any soft or wrinkled ones.

- Combine the orange juice, cranberry juice and honey in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.

- Add the cranberries and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and the mixture thickens.

- Do not cook for more than 15 minutes, as the pectin will start to break down and the sauce will not set as well. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

- Carefully spoon the cranberry sauce into a 3 cup mold. Place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.
- Remove from the refrigerator, overturn the mold and slide out the sauce. Slice and serve.

Thanksgiving Activities for the Kids:

*  Juice the oranges--have your little chef roll them on a hard surface to loosen the juices, twist them on a juicer, and squeeze out any remaining juices. 

*  Look through the cranberries to remove soft or wrinkled ones.

*  Stir occasionally.

 

Roasted Root Vegetables- Serves 8

This is a fun, creative recipe because you can modify it to include your favorites!  Take this opportunity to teach your children about how some vegetables grow above ground and some grow below.  Show them the veggie with the greens attached and let them guess which part grows underground!  Many root vegetables are naturally sweet, making them appealing to children’s taste buds while also filling them up with nutrients. Roasting root vegetables brings out this natural sweetness even more!

This recipe also provides great justification for a field trip to your local farmers market! Root veggies are generally some of the lower-priced items at the market and are available all winter long.  Feel free to substitute or add to this recipe at will. No matter what you do, it will all taste great!

What youll need:

*  4 pounds of root veggies

    Our suggestions (scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces):

    ▪     1 pound multi colored carrots

    ▪     1 pound celery root, peeled

    ▪     1 pound parsnips

    ▪     1 pound sweet potato or butternut squash

*  2 onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

*  2 leeks (white and pale green parts only), cut into 1-inch thick rounds

*  2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

    ▪     you could also use sage and thyme

*  ½ cup olive oil

*  10 garlic cloves, peeled

*  ¼ tsp grated nutmeg (optional)


- Position 1 rack in bottom third of oven and 1 rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Use two heavy large baking sheets.

- Combine all remaining ingredients except garlic in very large bowl; toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Divide vegetable mixture between prepared sheets. Place 1 sheet on each oven rack. Roast 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

- Reverse positions of baking sheets. Add 5 garlic cloves to each.

- Continue to roast until all vegetables are tender and brown in spots, stirring and turning vegetables occasionally, about 45 minutes longer. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Let stand on baking sheets at room temperature. Re-warm in 450°F oven until heated through, about 15 minutes.)

- Transfer roasted vegetables to large bowl and serve.

Thanksgiving Activities for the Kids:

*  Scrub the root veggies with a veggie scrubber brush (except for the celery root - this should be peeled by an adult).

*  Peel the garlic.

*  Remove the herbs from the sprig and chop.  This activity is best reserved for an older child with experience wielding a knife; of course, always supervise this type of activity!

*  Mix the root veggies, olive oil and herbs in a bowl.


Leftover Tip:

Take the leftover root veggies and put them in the food processor with a few cups of veggie broth.  Blend until smooth for a tasty holiday soup!

Whether you’ll be in the kitchen cooking away or outside competing in a fun run, watching the balloons at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, or your own combination of turkey-day festivities, we hope your holiday is filled with warmth, fun and (we wouldn’t be Red Rabbit without saying this!) conversations about (healthy) food!


Cheers!


The Red Rabbit Team

Allergy? or Intolerance...


The mealtime landscape can be a perilous one when sidestepping the landmines of food allergies and intolerances.  But what is the difference between the two?  Should we be concerned about one over the other?

Because the symptoms of these allergies and intolerances are not all mutually exclusive, understanding what kind of reaction a child is having can be difficult.  Both can result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, along with their own unique symptoms.  How can we tell the difference?  


What is an allergy?

Food allergies result from the body mistaking certain proteins in the given food as harmful invaders.  In response, the immune system releases antibodies to fight and remove these supposed invaders by triggering histamines and other chemicals to release into the blood. These chemicals are what are behind the allergy signs and symptoms that we commonly see.  Such signs and symptoms often occur relatively quickly and suddenly, and can vary from mild to life threatening.  They will occur every time the food allergen is eaten and can be triggered by very small amounts of said food.


Adverse effects largely exclusive to an allergic reaction include:

Skin – itchiness, bumps, hives, or rash

Respiratory  – trouble breathing, shortness of breath

Pain – chest

Anaphylaxis – drastic reduction in blood pressure, closing of the throat, severe difficulty breathing/swallowing


What is an intolerance?

Food intolerances are gastrointestinal in nature, and occur when the body can’t properly digest what is eaten or when the food acts as an irritant in the digestive tract.  Most commonly, a lack of certain digestive enzymes in the GI tract, resulting in incomplete digestion, is the cause of an intolerance.  Such is the case with lactose intolerance, which is caused by a lack of the enzyme lactase. Symptoms resulting from an intolerance tend to emerge more slowly and may only occur when eating a large amount of the food in question, or only if it is eaten often.  Intolerances are not life threatening and tend to be more manageable than allergies in that the food may still be eaten.


Common symptoms of intolerances are:

Esophageal – heartburn

Stomach/Intestinal – cramps, bloating, gas

Mood – irritability

Pain - Headaches


Common food allergies

Peanuts

Tree nuts

Fish

Shellfish

Cow’s Milk

Eggs

Soy

Wheat


Common food intolerances

Gluten

Lactose

Yeast

High Histamine (alcohols, soy, mushrooms, dried fruit, etc)


What to do if you think your child has an allergy/intolerance

First and foremost, always consult your doctor.  If you suspect your child has a food allergy, discontinue consumption of the questionable food and have your child tested for allergies. Your doctor may refer you to an allergist. If your child is diagnosed with an allergy, dependent on the severity, it may be extremely important to remain vigilant in monitoring his or her consumption by reading food ingredient labels, informing your school, and ordering carefully at restaurants.

Once it has been determined that your child has a food intolerance, a discussion can be had with your pediatrician about strategies to mitigate negative effects.  In some cases, limiting frequency and/or portioning may be effective.  In other cases, such as with lactose intolerance, an enzyme supplement may be used.

It can be a bit scary seeing the seemingly meteoric rise in reported childhood allergies in the US, which is all the more reason to see an allergist to confirm your child has an allergy or intolerance.  Managing these conditions can be difficult, but only after we know the precise cause of any symptoms can we best devise a plan of action. Knowing is half the battle!

For additional information, we encourage you to visit the following links:

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

Food Allergy Network

American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


John Bashant

Nutrition Compliance & Accounts Coordinator

How to Cook with Sweet Potatoes

Despite what some commercial diet plans say, or what people have been led to believe—not all carbohydrates are "bad".  Just like not all calories are created equally, carbohydrates are not either.  They provide energy for activity and they aid in the functioning of our muscles and internal organs, so we cannot live without them.  When looking for high-quality (i.e., highly beneficial and healthful) carbohydrates, choose a nutritional super star, like sweet potatoes!

Whether child or adult...we all like to enjoy something sweet! That doesnt mean it has to be something full of added sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. A sweet potato is a healthy whole food, sweet all on its own.  When eaten in moderation, in proper portion size and prepared healthfully, it’s one of nature’s best bets.  Besides their fun bright orange interior, sweet potatoes lend themselves to being seasoned by a variety of ethnic and flavorful spices, making them a “go to ingredient” no matter what the season.

 Ounce for ounce, white potatoes and sweet potatoes contain about the same amount of carbohydrates (1/2 cup = 15 grams). However, sweet potatoes are a better source of beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, manganese and calcium than white potatoes.  In addition, sweet potatoes have more fiber and therefore a slightly lower glycemic index than their white counterparts. 

For this reason, blood glucose will rise a little more gradually with sweet potatoes than with white potatoes. The rate at which your body breaks down a specific type of carbohydrate influences how quickly the food raises your blood sugar levels and in turn lowers them and potentially causing you to be hungrier faster.   It is also a better choice for someone with diabetes or diabetic tendencies because of its composition.

Although not the same, the USDA requires the other typically orange- colored vegetable of a softer variety and a cousin of the sweet potatothe yam—to  be labeled as a sweet potato, to avoid confusion.  So, yams purchased in the United States are almost always sweet potatoes, no matter what color and shape they are. 

At Red Rabbit, we incorporate sweet potatoes into many of our signature menu offerings: baked sweet potato wedges, sweet potato mash, sweet potato bread, baked sweet potato crisps, and more.  We are constantly looking for ways to introduce kids to healthful ways to prepare vegetables for maximum taste and nutrition! 

 The key to making them a healthy part of any diet is to enjoy them with the skin—baked and not fried, without a lot of added extras, like butter and sour cream, on top!  Let us know what your favorite RR sweet potato recipe is…or recommend one of your own!

Enjoy,


Shari Mermelstein, RD
Program Development Director

Curious Vegetable of the Week: Romanesco

This beautiful vegetable is romanesco.  Admired by architects, mathematicians, and foodies alike, this complex veggie is most closely related to cauliflower. Originally from Italy, many botanists believe this veggie first appeared during the days of Julius Caesar as the result of selective breeding by Italian farmers. Romanesco became prominent in the international market around the 1990s, and has since been enjoyed by those looking for a fun, healthy alternative to typical veggies.

Fun Fact: Known as the ‘ultimate fractal vegetable,’ the number of spirals on a head of romanesco is a Fibonacci number! For those of us who don’t quite remember our days in high school math class, fractals are patterns where when you divide a fractal pattern into parts, you get a nearly identical, smaller version of the original. The Fibonacci sequence is a pattern where, after the numbers 0 and 1, each subsequent number is equal to the two numbers before it added together (for example: 0+1 = 1, 3+5 = 8, etc.). The fruitlets on pineapples and the flowering of artichokes are also examples of naturally occurring Fibonacci patterns.

How can we use it?

Try this veggie raw to experience its fresh and slightly nutty taste. Romanesco is crunchier and more flavorful than cauliflower, and can be prepared as you would normally prepare broccoli or cauliflower. Cooked romanesco has a sweet and mild flavor, and steaming is a great method to soften this vegetable while retaining more vitamins than through boiling. Romanesco has a denser texture than its relatives, so it holds up better in a wider variety of cooking techniques. Romanesco pairs perfectly with pasta or can be dressed up in a simple mixture of garlic, olive oil and lemon juice.

How is it good for me?

Like cauliflower, romanesco is low in calories (a mere 25 per cup!), fat and sodium. Romanesco is high in vitamin C and a good source of potassium, folate, vitamin K, dietary fiber and carotenoids.

How to buy it

Delighted by a veggie that is as equally enjoyable to eat as it is to admire? When purchasing romanesco, look to your local farmers’ market for firm heads that are heavy for their size and do not have any discoloration. Store this veggie in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed bag and enjoy!


Cheers,

The Red Rabbit Team

Trick Out Your Treats!

Halloween is nearly upon us and the shelves are stocked with tricks and treats everywhere we turn.

No need to shriek in fear of sugary treats or screech in terror at long lists of ingredients! There are plenty of ways to enjoy treats in healthy ways and create festive goodies at home. However, with the plethora of candy many trick-or-treaters receive, it can be difficult to monitor how much and what your child may be eating.

According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend close to $2.08 billion on Halloween candy this year. The average trick or treater could receive hundreds of pieces of candy containing thousands of calories, as well as sugar, additives, dyes and other mystery ingredients.

Swap out those scary snacks for some healthy goodies. Here are some helpful hints and tips for this year’s Halloween adventures!

  • Eat before you trick-or-treat! If kids are hungry while they are running from doorstep to doorstep, they will want to dig into their sugary candy en route. Eat a protein-rich meal or snack before you head out.
  • When you arrive home with your candy, allow your child to eat a few pieces and then divide the candy into what they like and don’t like. When their pile of candy is whittled down, devise a system to enjoy the candy in moderation over a period of time.
  • Offer a special gift or prize in exchange for this year’s loot! A child can trade you all of their candy (they can keep a few pieces if they’d like) for a special treat and you can donate the candy to your office or place of work.
  • Don’t worry about waste! You can send leftover candy to the troops via Operation Gratitude or call local nursing homes, food pantries, women’s shelters or a children’s hospital. If you’re feeling brainy, you can turn your remaining sugary treats into a science experiment!
  • When handing out treats to “boys and ghouls” at your home, go for some healthier options. Try whole grain granola bars, whole wheat mini pretzels or real fruit snacks. Figamajigs offer tasty fig and chocolate bars and KIND bars are packed with yummy grains and fiber.
  • Think you can spot which Halloween candy is the better option? Take this quiz to find out!

When it comes to sweet treats, making them in our own kitchens is the healthiest way to go. This way, we can control what goes into them and avoid additives and preservatives. You can even try making your own version of Halloween candy!

Twix candy bars contain over 25 ingredients, many of which are very difficult to pronounce and are not healthy for us. Try making “Twix” bars in your own kitchen! This recipe from Food52 makes 18 candy bars, each with just a handful of ingredients.

Homemade Twix Candy Bars

Shortbread Layer

·         ¾ cups butter, room temperature

·         ½ cup powdered sugar

·         1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

·         ¼ teaspoon salt

·         1 ½ cup all-purpose flour

1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 9-inch pan and set aside.

2.     In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt until the mixture looks like a coarse sand. Mix in the flour until the dough comes together.

3.     Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until the surface of the shortbread looks completely dry. Cool in pan for 15 minutes.

 

Assembly

·         10 ounces soft caramels (or caramel bits)

·         6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1.     In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the caramel candies until completely melted and smooth, about 1-1 1/2 minutes. Using an offset spatula, spread the caramel evenly over the shortbread layer. Allow to cool for 15 minutes to set.

2.     Turn out shortbread onto a cutting board and cut into 9 1-inch wide pieces. Then, in turn, cut those pieces in half, creating 18 1-inch wide and 4 1/2-inch long candy bars.

3.     In another microwave safe bowl, melt the chopped chocolate for 15 seconds at a time, stirring between each interval, until smooth. Dip each candy bar into the chocolate, remove any excess chocolate, and set on wax paper to set completely (about 1 hour). Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

 

Feel free to experiment and make other yummy treats to give to friends at a Halloween party or to share at school. See some ideas below and visit our Red Rabbit Pinterest boards for some other inspiration!

           

            - Local NY apples drizzled in chocolate

            - Homemade air popped popcorn

            - Yogurt dipped pretzels

 

There are lots of tricky treats out there and making educated choices about our snacks is very important during this festive fall season.  We hope you’ll try your hand at making a few of your own treats this year. 

Have a happy, healthy Halloween!

 

Alexandra Roem

Account Coordinator

Creating Healthy Kids: Being the Biggest Influence

Reality television is big business these days.  Shows about weight loss are particularly popular, with “The Biggest Loser” leading the pack. Every week, millions of people tune in to watch contestants who are severely, dangerously overweight struggle to overcome not only size-related physical limitations, but also deconstruct the emotional and mental obstacles that contributed to their weight gains in the first place.

As an overweight child who grew into an obese teenager, I can personally testify to the role parents can play or not play in the prevention of obesity in adulthood: sweets were always readily available in my household, along with some healthier options, but as long as I had those sugary foods at the ready, it was my snack of choice.  My Midwestern diet was full of meat, dairy, canned vegetables full of sodium and lots of bread and butter – all of which seemed to fit the conventional wisdom of the time and culture. I was tall for my age, so my heaviness was often written off as “baby fat,” and I can even recall doctor’s appointments when my pediatrician dismissed my mother’s concerns by saying, “She will simply grow into it.”  As with most parents who love their children, she did the best with what she knew and followed the advice of my doctor.

Granted, this was the early 90’s, before obesity had reached the near-epidemic proportions it has now, and long before doctors started seeing Type-2 diabetes pop up in grammar-school-aged children.


What, then, can we do if we suspect our child might be developing a weight problem?  

One of the first things to do is talk to your pediatrician, who can confirm whether or not actions need to be taken. With younger children, it is recommended to maintain weight rather than lose it, and closely monitor growth and weight gain to make sure they are in proportion with each other. It is not recommended to reduce calories, as children are still growing and have a lot of energy!  Instead, make sure there are a lot of fresh fruits and veggies within easy reach of little hands, and be sure they see you eating your daily doses of produce as well! The Biggest Loser contestants who are parents are right to strive to be better role-models for their children, as kids are known to mirror the behavior of the adults in their lives.


What if our kids refuse to eat their veggies?

This is some of the most common feedback we receive at Red Rabbit.  If your children are already insisting on a diet consisting of chicken nuggets, cookies or macaroni and cheese, fear not!  Young children are very adaptable and open to new things. Because they are learning how to voice their opinion and exert some control in their life, making food choices is often their first doses of independence. At Red Rabbit, we encourage children to try new foods in our cooking labs by talking about the food and where it comes from, followed by preparing a simple dish together and then sharing it.  The excitement children have when they are invited to participate in meal preparation tends to overshadow any initial skepticism.  By encouraging kids to eat their veggies and fruits by involving them in the cooking prep, we lay the groundwork for the wholesome eating habits needed to maintain a healthy weight well into adulthood!


What if my child is older, is overweight and has voiced concern about it?

Talking to a pre-teen or teenager about their weight can be a sensitive topic, and it’s very important to keep communication open and encouraging. A benefit here is that the older a child is, the more involved he or she can be in having a dialogue about how to be healthier. Sometimes, this can mean us adults taking a closer look at our own habits and adjusting how we eat as family.  The more support a tween or teen feels, the easier it will be to talk about making changes to support weight loss if needed. 


When I was 13, my height had reached my current 5’3,” but my weight had risen to 207 pounds. By that point I had matured enough to ponder what my future would look like if I continued to eat the things I was eating. The thing that ultimately helped me was education: I took a health class in school that talked about the nature of calories in, calories out as well as the importance of eating fresh vegetables – not the canned kind to which I was accustomed.  It also introduced to me the concept of serving sizes.  My dad bought me a calorie counting book, and instead of going to our favorite fast-food place on Saturdays for our daddy-daughter dates, we visited the local sandwich shop that supplied an array of fresh ingredients. Having my parents show such support as I endeavored to improve my health was the key to my success, and ultimately I lost 100 pounds – the majority of which I have kept off to this day.


Exercise is also an important factor for teenagers who are looking to lose weight, and playing sports is a great way to complement healthier eating habits.  The more weight I lost, the more active I was able to be. I joined the tennis team, track and softball team.  Those of us who play sports can attest to its benefits: it instills confidence, builds social skills and fosters a sense of belonging.  It can also shift the focus away from weight in general, and onto meeting performance milestones and achieving a goal as part of a team. If playing team sports isnt an option, then making exercise a part of family time by hiking, going for a walk after dinner or for bike rides on the weekends will reinforce to a teenager how important it is that she not only meet her goals, but that fitness plays a factor in our lives, too!


There are plenty of ways to stop the spread of obesity in children, and as the contestants on "The Biggest Loser" have found, it all begins with us adults!  As the parents and educators, we have the power to positively influence the choices kids make in their eating and activity habits.  The more healthy choices they see us making, the more likely they will make these same decisions for themselves. The more excited we are about trying new foods and eating our fruits and vegetables, the less skeptical they will be! At Red Rabbit, we are proud to be a part of this exciting journey of providing access to fresh, wholesome meals to kids and fostering an interest in healthy eating for a lifetime. 


Here’s to health!


Hayley Lutz 

Red Rabbit Client Services Coordinator/Account Specialist

Curious Food of the Week: Starfruit!

Curious Food of the Week: Starfruit!

Whew, it sure is hot out! At Red Rabbit, we like to eat a lot of fruit to provide a quick nutritious sweet treat, as well as some relief from this classic July heat!

Every week, our Education Team likes to feature a curious food for our offices to try, and this time were excited about the star fruit.

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Welcome to 2012! Exciting News from Red Rabbit

Welcome to 2012! Exciting News from Red Rabbit

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year!  Hope this finds you well and ready for 2012!  I am pleased to share lots of exciting changes and additions happening at Red Rabbit this year with you... we have a new look, a new website, a new blog (yes, this is my first posting!) an improved weekly newsletter we call “Notes From the Patch”, and the addition of more staff with super qualifications and a commitment to not only improving Red Rabbit’s menu and service offerings but also sharing Red Rabbit’s mission and dedication to education.  We are creating new programs for educators, parents and kids—in school, after school, on Saturdays and even summer camps and field trips.  In short, we have lots and lots of really exciting new things happening that we are all very grateful for. 

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